I knew I wanted to cloth diaper before my baby was born. My mother had cloth diapered with a diaper service and she encouraged me to do the same. One of my best friends cloth diapers her baby and she was a great resource and encourager for my decision. However, once my daughter was born it was a whirlwind of poop, sleepless nights, and reflux issues and so cloth diapering fell by the wayside.
My husband returned from a deployment when our daughter was about 3 months old and I finally had the extra help I needed to tackle my fear of cloth diapering. Unfortunately, the apartment that I was renting at the time did not allow tenants to have their own washer and dryer. So my options were the laundromat down the block, a shared coin washer in the basement of the building, or my bath tub. One of the reasons my husband and I chose to cloth diaper was to save money and using a laundromat or coin washer would completely defeat that purpose so I chose my bath tub.
I remember the first day I ran out of disposables and felt totally committed to cloth diapering, I was overwhelmed and daunted by the task. By the end of that day I realized my fears were unfounded and cloth diapering was no more difficult than disposables and I didn't have any poosplosions (my term for the poop seepage that covered my daughter's onesies on a regular basis).
I started with gDiapers and used cotton prefolds as inserts because I knew they would be easiest to wash. I reused the cover whenever possible and rinsed the plastic liner before washing it with some detergent I put in a squirt bottle next to my bathroom sink. The prefold went into a small bucket that sat in my bathtub and I sprinkled baking soda in to it to keep it from smelling.
Every other night I would fill the bucket with water and diaper detergent and let them soak for a few hours then I hand washed and rinsed them like any other clothing item. Once a month I put all the prefolds into a coin washer with a little bleach to make sure they were getting thoroughly cleaned. When it was warm and sunny outside I line dried them on my porch and when it was cold I put them on a drying rack near a window.
I eventually added bumGenius, Rumparooz and GroVia diapers to my diaper laundry routine and cloth diapered without a washing machine for about six months before moving to an apartment with a washer/dryer hookup. My daughter rarely got rashes and never again had a poosplosion while wearing a cloth diaper.
Have you cloth diapered without access to a washing machine? What tips do you have?
Indya has a 14 month old daughter that she has been cloth diapering for a year. She is also a Coast Guard wife and writes about her experiences as a mother, military wife, and renter over at www.coastie-wifey-lifey.